Text and Image Photography

New Images Photography

Atget Imitation with Photoshop

Eugene Atget photographed Paris in all its early twentieth century glory. Vast contrasts existed between the old and modern-from old wooden pull carts to more modern carousals. With his keen eye, Atget photographed daily life of the city with cameras, which had almost no adjustments. No one even knows what the focal length of his lens was.

Atget almost always used narrow apertures, which is evident in his image, Le Cirque, an image that was shot straight on with the entire length of the carousel included in the frame. Everything in the frame slightly soft, but not soft enough that you can’t see the lettering, “Crème Eclipse” in the background behind the it. Atget used natural lighting in that image. He oriented his camera so that the sunlight was behind him, casting light over portions of the ride facing the sun. Part of the background has blasting highlights and on the ride there are dark spots underneath the animals and horse and cart as well as the decorated ceiling. Most noticeable, is that the brightest light is cast on the animals just to the right of the center of the frame.

You don’t have to be in Paris to get an image of a merry-go-round, go to any big city around the world and you can usually find one. The image in Figure atget1 shows a carousal inside Pier 39 in San Francisco. In that image I focus on part of the ride at much the same angle as Atget did in his image. The lighting however was not the same. Neither was the aged look of the picture. Digital images can have a plasticy look, which, fortunately can be adjusted in Photoshop. To get the lighting right I used a spotlight in the dialog box after I navigated to  Filter>Render>Lighting Effects. Then to get rid of the sharpness (something I almost never do because sharp focus is a representation of the quality of an image these days) I had to soften the image slightly. I navigated to  Blur>Lens Blur  and adjusted slider as needed to get the same softness in Atget’s image. Last, I used the Dodge and Burn tools to further tweak the light so that appear similar to that in Atget’s image.

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